Struck A Nerve (Part I) – Toschie Rod of Audrey Horne

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Early in 2013 Scandinavian rockers Audrey Horne put the cat well and truly among the rock pigeons, with a stand-out third album Youngblood. Eighteen months further on and follow-up Pure Heavy is cooling in the racks and the band are back doing what they do best, bringing their brand of rock n’fuckin’ roll to the live stage… In the first of a two part feature, Ghost Cult was delighted to catch up with live wire front man Toschie Rod.

 

The last time I met Audrey Horne’s affable and effortlessly charming lead singer Toschie Rod, he was wearing only a pair of black underpants. Before your imagination starts running away with you, he was backstage at the band’s triumphant appearance at the London Garage back at the start of last year and was dutifully signing vinyl copies of his band’s latest and earlier works for yours truly.

Upon reminding him of this encounter, Rod is politeness personified; he genuinely doesn’t remember, which I suspect is the best thing for all of us. This latest meeting – fully clothed, I hasten to add – midway through the band’s latest UK tour in support of the group’s latest album, the hard rockin’ Pure Heavy (Napalm) gives us a chance to reflect on where the band are in 2014…

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“2014’s been good…it’s been… interesting.  Busy. We’ve been busy. I’m just thinking back to even before the start of this year, you know. We have just been so exceptionally busy. After Youngblood (also Napalm) came out we did 3 tours in Europe; one with Long Distance Calling and Solstafir, one with Karma to Burn and Ghold and one with Grand Magus. Oh yes, we also did that a short British tour with The Mercy House. In the first half of 2014 we spent a lot of we spent a lot of time writing music and recording stuff until we went into the studio to put down Pure Heavy; so, yeah, 2014 has been a busy, busy time….”

Have you been surprised by the reaction to Pure Heavy? Has it been a good surprise?

“Yeah, it’s been good. I mean, let’s be clear about this, Youngblood was a turning point for us as a band and also musically. We had reached a point, I think, where a lot of things became “just business” and not pleasing ourselves. We decided that we needed to get back those good feelings about why we had put the band together in the first place. Think about it this way – there is a big difference between writing and recording stuff on your own in a bedroom when you are coming up with small bits, recording it, then doing some more, recording that, and on and on. Whilst you might get some really good stuff from that process, it is stop start and not very… organic. When we released Youngblood it was a completely natural organic process for us. We have tried to do the same with Pure Heavy.”

The self-titled record is a beautifully constructed record; you can hear the influences, see what you are trying to achieve as a band. Youngblood and Pure Heavy feel like you want to be the last gang in town where you don’t care what anyone thinks or what you sound like – albums where you just want to let the music do the talking, if you’ll forgive the cliché…

“Oh, there is no doubt that Youngblood hit a nerve. When Youngblood came out we were like “Holy Shit!!” People were really praising the album, really getting it; we were suddenly a really “cool” band. As good as that is, we did know that when we released Pure Heavy we knew that everyone was going to be looking in every corner and under every cover to decide whether it was as good as Youngblood. You know, I have read plenty of reviews where there have been plenty of “it’s not as good as Youngblood” type comments but, you know, I can understand that as well….”

 

Do you think part of the more muted response to Pure Heavy was because everyone has been expecting another massive leap forward?

“Oh yes, there’s definitely something in that. We approached Pure Heavy in the same way that we did with Youngblood. It was all done together in a rehearsal and then we went in and recorded it live. That way you can focus on the playing until you get the atmosphere.”

 

There’s definitely a sound of wanting to capture a band in the moment, as live. Are you happy that you have achieved that?

“Look, we are a good band on album but we are a waaay better as a live band. What you get with Audrey Horne is the same band, the same songs but on steroids. We always consider ourselves a live band first and foremost. We are good in the studio, but live I really do think we are something else. Also, one of the other reasons that I think we are received well is that we haven’t second guessed what might be “cool”- we have just gone in and done it so it’s hardly going to be a surprise that some people like what we do and some don’t.”

 

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Words by MAT DAVIES